Sunday, April 20, 2008


"Thou shalt know; Self-chosen are the woes that fall on men - How wretched, for they see not good so near, Nor hearken to its voice - few only know The pathway of deliverance from ill." *
The early evidence shows, however, that, while Pythagoras was famous in his own day and even 150 years later in the time of Plato and Aristotle, it was not mathematics or science upon which his fame rested. Pythagoras was famous (1) as an expert on the fate of the soul after death, who thought that the soul was immortal and went through a series of reincarnations; (2) as an expert on religious ritual; (3) as a wonder-worker who had a thigh of gold and who could be two places at the same time; (4) as the founder of a strict way of life that emphasized dietary restrictions, religious ritual and rigorous self discipline. * Excerpts from the biographies on the Life of Pythagoras by Diogenes Laertius (ca 180); The Life of Pythagoras by Porphyry (ca233-306); Iamblischus of Syrian Chalci's Life of Pythagoras (ca280-333); and an Anonymous Biography on the Life of Pythagoras, Preserved by Photius (ca 820-891) in The Complete Pythagoras [offsite ebook]

Pythagoras used the greatest Purity, and was shocked at all bloodshed and killing; that he not only abstained from animal food, but never in any way approached butchers or hunters. (Eudoxus, Description of the Earth qtd in Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras, 7 [offsite ebook])

Authors state that a trainer of the name of Pythagoras certainly did train his athletes on [meat], but that it was not our philosopher; for that he even forbade men to kill animals at all, much less would he have allowed his disciples to eat them, as having a right to live in common with mankind. (Diogenes, Life of Pythagoras, XII "Diet and Sacrifices" [offsite ebook])

As we do sacrifice to the Phoebus whom Pythagoras worships, never eating aught Which has the breath of life. (Innesimachus, Alcmaeon qtd in Diogenes, Life of Pythagoras, XX "Poetic Testimonies" [offsite ebook]).

"They eat nothing but herbs and vegetables, and drink Pure water only. (Austophon, Pythagorean qtd in Diogenes, Life of Pythagoras, XX "Poetic Testimonies" [offsite book]).

You are not the only man who has abstained From living food; for so have we And who, I'd like to know, did ever taste Food while alive, most sage Pythagoras? (Austophon, Pythagorean qtd in Diogenes, Life of Pythagoras, XXIII "Ridiculing Epigrams" [offsite ebook].

Pythagoras was, so wise a man, that he Never ate meant himself, and called it sin. (Austophon, Pythagorean qtd in Diogenes, Life of Pythagoras, XXIII "Ridiculing Epigrams"[offsite ebook]).

In addition, the best polity, popular concord, community of possessions among friends, worship of the Gods, piety to the dead, legislation, erudition, silence, abstinence from eating the flesh of animals, continence, temperance, sagacity, divinity, and in one word, whatever is anxiously desired by the scholarly, was brought to light by Pythagoras. It was, on account of all this, as we have already observed, that Pythagoras was so much admired. (Iamblichus, Life of Pythagoras, VI "The Pythagorean Community" [offsite ebook])

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